Nuffield Ireland Scholars travel to the Contemporary Scholars’ Conference (CSC), this year held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from 10th to 18th March 2023.
Nuffield Canada hosted this year’s CSC in Richmond, a suburb of beautiful Vancouver, in British Columbia. Set in the midst of mountains, river and ocean, this is a vibrant, multicultural city. Its commercial port is the largest in Canada, handling one third of all Canada’s trade in goods outside of North America, including significant agricultural commodity trade.
Image: The Irish contingent at the Nuffield CSC2023 in Richmond, BC, Canada. L to r: Tommy Murray; Gillian Willis; Mike Brady; Margaret Edgill; Liagh Whelehan; Bryan Daniels; Catherine Lascurettes and David Fennelly
Image: A mix of 2023 and a few 2022 Scholars from all over the Nuffield world attended the 2023 CSC in Richmond, BC. Also in the picture are the Nuffield International Board Members, Executives and Delegates from the Nuffield countries.
Image: Picture of G3 Terminal courtesy of G3
Our field visits took in the huge G3 Terminal, through which 150-waggon trains carrying up to 15,000t of wheat and rapeseed from Alberta and Saskatchewan are offloaded to 48 silos which can stock up to 180,000t. Panamax type bulk ships carrying up to 60,000t each can be loaded in 36 hours, in strict quality and traceability conditions to ensure the quality of the product. From Vancouver, G3 ships grain and oilseed rape to markets around the Pacific rim.
Find out more about the G3 Vancouver Terminal – click here
Also in the port of Vancouver, our next stop was at the OceanWise Plastics Lab, which analyse ocean water for microplastics and find innovative ways to support businesses such as washing machine manufacturers, government and individuals in stopping them at source.
There, we learned about the life story of a textile microfibre, and that the weight equivalent of 10 blue whales enters Canada’s rivers, lakes and oceans each year. Washing clothes less often and at cooler temperatures was recommended. But better retention of fibres through water treatment plants, and more efficient industrial and washing processes to eliminate fibre shedding were the real targets for the lab.
Finally, on the same site, was Vital Kelp, who run a kelp nursery, whose aim is to recolonise and rewild some existing, depleted kelp beds in the local area. They have the capacity to produce millions of baby kelp plants. Their technique involves “green gravel” and “toddler kelp” where baby kelp plants are tethered to pebbles which they eventually colonise and attach themselves to, and then transplanting those when robust enough to restore kelp forests on the ocean floor.
This is done in collaboration and with the local knowledge of First Nation peoples whose ancestral land the port of Vancouver is located on: the Coastal Salish peoples. Kelp captures carbon and uses it to grow at the fastest rate of any other plant on the planet. Replenishing the kelp beds is referred to as afforestation.
Image: Vital Kelp founder Lee Ann Ennis shows qn example of a “toddler kelp” attached to a “green pebble”.
Image: The attaching end of a kelp plant.
Image: “Kelp toddler” growing beds at the Vital Kelp lab.
Most of the week was spent engaging with experts in a variety of agribusiness or adjacent enterprises and organisations in a conference format. Each morning a lottery system ensured Scholars sat at different tables. They were then encouraged to use “co-operative conversation” to first consider and debate the presentation they had just heard, and then agree on one question per table prior to asking it from each speaker. This technique takes Scholars out of their comfort zone and allows them to develop their interpersonal, analytical skills and confidence.
During those conferencing days, we learned about Antarctic food growing experiments aimed at facilitating food independence for future missions to space; about insect breeding to supply sustainable fertiliser but also protein for human consumption; about preparedness for emergency situations such as floods or wildfires; about the Canadian rapeseed (Canola) production chain, among many other topics.
Scholars were given tips and encouragement to be proactive on social media, with a daily challenge with a prize to be won for most engaging post – one of which was won by our very own 2023 Scholar and super Instagrammer Margaret Edgill of Mount Briscoe Farm! You can follow Margaret – click here.
You can also read our Executive Catherine Lascurettes’ take-aways on the combined CSC and Triennial experiences, in the April 2023 Cúl Dara Consultancy Newsletter, at this link – click here
You can find out more about the Nuffield programme, and the adventures of our travelling Scholars in real time, by following us on our social media channels.